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Hello – Anyone There?

How Phone Calls Can Hurt A College’s Brand

It is well known that personal relationships and a strong brand are keys to enrollment success (and certainly expensive to attain). Yet using the common telephone to build relationships and brand are, in many cases, counter-productive to the cause.
For example, while I was calling a college today, its automated voicemail malfunctioned. I hung up and tried again, still no success. I tried 2 different menu options with the hope that a real person would answer and connect me to the right person… No one answered at all. There wasn’t even a message that the college was closed or an opportunity to leave a message.
During another call to a different college, when I pressed “0” as a possible shortcut to a real person, I heard the greeting “Customer Service is very important to us, please hold for the next available operator.” After 4 minutes, no one answered. For most people, especially the traditional-aged college student, 4 minutes is a long time to be waiting to reach an operator.
Greetings that say, “For answers to your questions, please visit our website” could be frustrating. This in essence is saying, “quit calling us and do it yourself”.
Also, unfortunately common is being transferred to various voicemail boxes – even during business hours. Every campus office and employee has a telephone. So, if not an equipment deficiency, is connecting a time management issue?
Customer service (exceptional at that) is imperative for successful recruitment and retention. This is not just an enrollment management concept, it’s the platinum rule of interpersonal communication – treat others the way they want to be treated.
In addition to frustrating, disappointing service is memorable and often recanted to others.
As mentioned in our recent webinar, “Customer Service Expectations and Experiences during the Admissions and Enrollment Process”, people are 8 times more likely to recant a bad customer service experience than a good one.
Your college can stand out from the competition by being the college with real people on the phone line. Customer service equates to value, and this is directly related to recruitment and retention outcomes.
Try this: Conduct a simple test. Call your college from an outside line for a first-hand experience.
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Janet Sieff,

Over 30 years of experience in higher education marketing, admissions, and financial aid. Fifteen of those years spent on a campus managing the high school recruitment operations and negotiating articulation agreements. Off-campus experience includes consulting for college cost affordability, tuition payment plan implementation, online media campaign sales, lead generation, college prep content sales, and strategic planning for national branding.

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